On Thursday, December 11, New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) experienced a massive subway meltdown stranding thousands of commuters and even endangering some of them. One crowded train opened its doors on the wrong side of the tracks. Other passengers were forced to evacuate trains across the system, reported NBC News (12.12.14).
A manhole fire near the West 4th Street subway station damaged subway power cables and caused smoky conditions in a number of subway tunnels in Manhattan. Some commuters were stuck on trains more than an hour, like the commuters on an M train. When the first car finally pulled into the 23rd Street station, the train was evacuated. A technical error with the computerized signal system caused additional delays for some trains.
A Times Square-bound 7 train experienced mechanical issues as it was sitting at the 5th Avenue stop in Manhattan when a heater inside a subway car malfunctioned. This caused smoke inside the car. All passengers were safely evacuated and the train was removed from service.
Subway doors that opened on the wrong side posted one of the greatest potential risks to passengers. A train on the 42nd Street shuttle opened its doors on the wrong side. The MTA took the train out of service as the incident was being investigated.
Millions of people in New York rely on the public transportation system to take them to their destinations safely. Public transportation providers have a duty to keep their subways, trains and buses in safe, working condition. The MTA is the agency responsible for the safety of passengers who ride subway trains and use subway stations.
Train accidents that can cause injuries include derailments, collisions, and abrupt starts and stops. Injuries can also be caused by falls, including falls from a subway platform onto tracks or a slip-and-fall accident on the stairs in a station. People have also slipped and got caught in the gap between the train and the platform.
The 2013 customer injury rate for the NYCT Department of Subways was 2.96 per million customers, up from 2.79 in 2012. The MTA reported ridership of 1,707,555,714 people in 2013, up from 1,654,582,265 in 2012. As of December 31, 2013, MTA New York City Transit and the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transportation Operating Authority (MaBSTOA, the bus system) had 8,411 personal injury claims and lawsuits and 2,700 property damage claims pending against them because of the operation and administration of the Transit System.
Major subway accidents in New York are investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and by MTA personnel. In other cases, the MTA police will investigate. For typical passengers, an independent investigation of a subway accident is usually necessary to determine exactly what happened and which parties should be held accountable. An experienced New York lawyer can help investigate a case to determine responsibility. Individuals who have been injured at a subway station or in a subway accident may be entitled to compensation.